Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket

When the kids were young and, in my opinion, reading books too easy for them, I tricked them into reading the Lemony Snicket books by telling them they were too hard for them to read and maybe they could read them in a few years time.

They fell for it and both of them ended up reading the entire series while I only read up to The Carnivorous Carnival.

I binged on the Netflix versions of the books (oh wow! Neil Patrick Harris!!!) and since season 2 ends with the book I last read, I decided to go ahead and read the rest of the series but it would seem that our copies of the books have mysteriously disappeared, a phrase that here means “someone absconded with them but are not admitting it,” so I was forced to use the Libby app on my phone and put it on hold.

I liked it, just fine, but I am ashamed to say that I like the series better. The repetition in the book got to me (which is why I stopped reading the series after The Carnivorous Carnival (which I may or may not have finished).

I will still read The Grim Grotto, and The Penultimate Peril and The End, but I am pretty sure I will feel the same about them.

The kids gave me a couple of Snicket’s other books (or rather Daniel Handler — the real name of the author) and I do need to get to those, which I will, hopefully this year.

Where’d You go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Very enjoyable book, fun in many ways, easy to read. I was a little put off, however, about the mean-spirited things the author had to say about most people, especially those who were Canadian, Midwestern, from Seattle or even just “nice.” I would have attributed it to the characters in the book, but Semple said that she wrote the book based on her difficult transition from LA to Seattle.

That said, I suppose it was a satire, so I suppose I will let it pass. Looking forward to the film due out in October — although Cate Blanchett is not who I pictured as Bernadette.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Another bookgroup book, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, was interesting and enjoyable.

The book opens with Elena Richardson walking through her burning house wondering where her children are, then realizing they are all accounted for goes outside to watch her home in Shaker Heights, Ohio burn down.

The book then goes back a few months when Elena first meets Mia and her daughter, Pearl,  who are renting an apartment from Elna.

The book then goes on to describe the various relationships her family creates with the new tenants.

While I enjoyed this book, it was sometimes hard to read because Ng is so open with the characters’ faults.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow. It was chosen as a future read for my bookgroup and while I was not excited by the title, I loved it almost as soon as I began reading. I forced myself to read slowly to savor the writing and the life of Alexander Rostov.

The book begins in 1922 when youngish Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to live the rest of his life in Moscow’s Metropol hotel because he is an aristocrat. His life was spared because of a revolutionary poem attributed to him, but if he steps foot outside the Metropol he is told he will be shot on sight.

Rostov meets many interesting people including the daughter of a revolutionary (and later her daughter), a famous film actress, and a Soviet official,  all of whom enrich or even save, his life in one way or another.  He lives a surprising full life within the walls of the hotel.

The history of Russia and the Soviet Union is told as background to the book.

I ended up falling in love with Alexander Rostov a little bit. His gentlemanly ways will be with me for years to come.

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

While C. S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors, I’ve actually read very little of his work beyond the Chronicles of Narnia. I chose The Great Divorce because it was on the top left shelf of a bookcase in the basement.

When I started reading it my first thought was “The Good Place!” and sure enough at least one other person had that thought.

The book starts out in what we find out later is Hell. A group of denizens in Hell are boarding a bus to what we found out later is an outpost of Heaven. During the bus ride the narrator (Lewis himself, apparently) mostly listens to others talk, complain, or fight.

Once in the other place Lewis meets up with George McDonald who shows him around and when not eavesdropping on other conversations, tries to convince Lewis to follow him to Heaven.

It is a small book, but very heavy and it took me at least a week to read. I am glad I finally read something of Lewis’ that was not hiding religion inside fairy tales.